This has been an interesting opening "full" week of FCS football, folks. The results continue to pour in. I still feel like we had two massive results that could impact the November playoff picture (Towson surviving late down at The Citadel and Montana really looking strong at South Dakota). And before I begin talking all football … hey Charleston, S.C.? Savannah? The Georgia and Carolina coasts? Please be safe and don't underestimate this monster Hurricane. About 90 percent of the country doesn't "get it" but you all do and I know I do. Don't play around with it. Football is like 14th on the list of priorities starting now.
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For the rest of the country, back to football. To me? The Towson win may end up being the biggest win in the nation today. Look, the Tigers are good. We wouldn't have ranked them No. 10 in the country in the preseason if we didn't think this team under head coach Rob Ambrose couldn't play. Taking out this year's team at The Citadel on the road was no small accomplishment. The Bulldogs are strong and they may very well be in the playoff picture too. It was a back-and-forth affair and we think eventually Towson looks back at this game in November and smiles because it put it firmly into the FCS Playoff bracket. There are so many weapons on this year's Towson team, and it also played some stout defense today.
We've ("we" by the way is Sam Herder and I on staff at HERO Sports, I should clarify) have been curious about Montana for awhile. Today was a good step forward. QB Dalton Sneed was a machine and Coach Bobby Hauck is a proven winner at one of the nation's top traditional FCS programs. Hey folks … "this" may be happening in 2019 under the Rockies in Montana. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, North Dakota State demolished Butler where the Minnesota Twins play (that was a genius move to do an opening game there by the way) and James Madison gave West Virginia fits deep into the fourth quarter, and the JMU faithful diehards think this team has miles to go (think about that). Those are our top two teams in the preseason poll. Not a bad opening week, honestly.
We also learned that the Big 12 is probably wishing it didn't load up so much with FCS "cream puffs" because it's potentially lethal. Kansas, West Virginia and ranked Iowa State nearly dropped games to FCS teams today. It was razor thin close, thanks to Indiana State, JMU and a supposedly "rebuilding" UNI. Not a bad rebuilding job to take a P5 team to OT. On the flip side, at Kansas State — led by new head coach Chris Klieman from, you guessed it, an FCS school (North Dakota State) — actually had arguably one of the most impressive games of the day in the Big 12, shutting down Southland favorite Nicholls. That's something Kansas last year, Texas A&M the year before and Georgia in 2016 struggled to do, but K-State did today.
Maybe it's because Klieman knows something about this level?
In games that count towards conference standings? We found out Mercer in the SoCon is way better than we realized and Prairie View A&M is going to be a big factor in the SWAC. Mercer hammered a dangerous Western Carolina team and its scary offense led by Tyrie Adams. The Bears are ready to take that darkhorse label to contender label. The truth is, overall it wasn't a very good day in SoCon land. Potential SoCon winner Wofford really was shut down by the MEAC's S.C. State, a program that wasn't even a factor in its own conference last year. One of the defending champs, ETSU, seemed like it'd be able to hang with FBS Appalachian State, but was blown out. Samford lost to an OVC team that went 1-10 team in Tennessee Tech, but we'll get to that in a second.
Furman though? And The Citadel (again, in a close loss?) … we may have learned something big today.
Back to Tennessee Tech. It sucks to be at the bottom of the standings every year (1-10 in 2018). Well, the Golden Eagles had a spark today in going for two-points to win in overtime against Samford in a shootout. Meanwhile, down in Texas … last year's 1-10 Southland punching bag Houston Baptist? It gave FBS UTEP all it wanted and nearly walked away from El Paso with a massive win for the campus. All over the country some of last year's teams that struggled were punching back … Mississippi Valley State nearly knocked off Tennessee State, Norfolk State nearly landed an FBS win vs. Old Dominion, you name it.
It's been an interesting day, but it didn't add to the FCS over FBS win total. Central Arkansas got the FCS' first win of 2019 on Thursday when it scored 21 points in the fourth to knock off Western Kentucky, but today's near misses didn't add to the total.
Interesting first weekend folks.
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